I’m in a deacquisition mode with my comic collection these days, trying to thin out an overgrown collection and focus on those titles and items that really mean a lot to me. Sure, I have a nearly-complete Hulk collection that stretches back to 1968, but am I really going to reread those comics? Especially when the Essentials take up so much less shelf space, and at the same time fills in the missing issues from ’68-’73?
Still, I’m a sucker for a comic show, especially one with such a low cost of entry as last weekend’s Free State Comicon. And while I successfully steered clear of the bargain bins, I did pick up a few goodies from self-publishing creators:
Gooch #1 (Bookish Beasts, 2014), the latest collection from Tara Avery, compiles 48 strips starring the bisexual title character. While I had read a number of these online, it was great to read them in one sitting. In addition to her expressive, well-drawn characters, Tara has a real knack for dry humor and snarkiness which makes it fun to spend time with these characters. Especially enjoyable was the sequence where Gooch and Miguel set up Luddite bartender Martha with blogger Gretchen!
Tales of Amnesia #1 (Virtual Infinity Comics, 2014) is brand new from Kansas City’s own Mike Sullivan. While it introduces a lot of new characters and concepts (as is to be expected with a “backstory of the universe” kind of comic), there are enough dynamic layouts and action sequences that it reads like an actual story and not just an encyclopedia entry. Mike also notes where it (along with his “There’s something happening in Crawford, Kansas” webcomic) fits into the larger tale he’s been telling via short comics and anthology stories since 2004.
Daniel Spottswood‘s NIX! 2014 Annual (the author, 2014) is a fine little minicomic. Unlike some of his previous print work I’ve picked up, this is a less physically involved (think Chris Ware) product, and more slice-of-life vignettes (think James Kochalka). He’s still able to pack a lot of character and expression into his small panels and even smaller characters, and this issue includes his foray into Hourly Comic Day 2014, a comic-making marathon even I wouldn’t want to attempt!
Science Hero #1 (New Haven Comics, 2013) is an anthology written and edited by Aaron Walther. Not as “science-y” as I was expecting, it was a nice mix of SF heroics, mystery, and comedy in three different stories. While all are nicely done, the slickly stylized artwork of Grant Perkins and JAMWAH on “Muscles and Mullets” stood out the most for me…
Darren Neely’s weird science epic The Prospector #1-4 (the author, 2011-2013) jumps around in time and setting quite a bit–the author compared its multiple takes on the same events to “Lost”, which is an apt analogy. I’m of mixed mind on this effect: on the one hand, it gets tedious to jump back and forth between the same couple of scenes as they move slowly forward ; on the other, it’s a clever way to break up what could be long talky sequences with moments of action. The artwork by Chad Kaberlein & Philip Burnette improves over the issues, and issue #3 starts off particularly strong. Neely handles the lettering & coloring chores for these nicely-produced full color issues (his coloring includes a nice mottled texture that never overpowers the line art), which seems like a good way for him to exert final control over the finished product.